Sabretache plate


Archaeological site: Bugyi, Felsővány, grave no. 2
Inventory no.: 2014.1.1.1
Material: gilt silver, copper
Period: Conquest Period (10th century)
Storage: Gödöllő, Ferenczy Museum Center

The silver-plate-covered sabretache is an emblematic object of the Hungarian Conquest Period. Men wore this object, decorated with the typical ornaments of the period, suspended from their belts, keeping their extremely highly esteemed fire-making tools in it. Its cover was decorated in several, highly artistic ways.

The sabretache covered with a silver plate is an emblematic object of the Hungarian Conquest Period. Men wore this object, decorated with the typical ornaments of the period, suspended from their belts, keeping their extremely highly esteemed fire-making tools in it. Its cover was decorated in several ways: some pieces were ornamented with metals; the most beautiful sabretache plates were, however, artistically elaborated. Metal ornaments were often put on the buckle and tip of the belt—we could also observe these during the excavation in the graves at their original location. The small number or sabretache plates, their uneven regional spread, and the context of the authentically excavated graves imply that these objects could have indicated ranks—most of them were discovered in the rich cemeteries of the Upper Tisza region from the early 10th century. We are unaware of sabretache plates from Pest County, all originate in Kiskunfélegyháza and Dunavecse.

The front plate of the Bugyi-Felsővány sabretache was embossed with silver alloy and its back plate with red copper, the upper one fifth of which was subsequently finished off with rough iron plate. The front plate has an internal framed structure, the background of the floral ornaments, embossed from the back and punched from the front, is gilded.

In the exterior strip, half-palmette bouquets unfolding from wavy vines run around on three sides. At the top and the bottom, at the juncture of the vines, smaller leaf bouquets, unfolding in two opposite directions, close the frame. The vines are divided by longitudinal lines closed by circle punches and cross-hatched semi-circles. Palmette bouquets unfolding upwards and sideways from each other, composed vertically in the center field, are surrounded by the simple ribbon of the inner frame tracing the curve of the sabretache. The edges of the leaves are emphasised with cross-hatching, their ends finished off with single or in places triple circle punches. Semi-tubular rivets line the flat border edge of the plate, once used to hold together the ornamented plate, the textile or leather cover of the sabretache, and the back plate.

The object was damaged during usage, thus its surface is fragmented, incomplete in the middle, and was subsequently repaired with copper rivets.

Context: The first finds in Bugyi-Felsővány were discovered by civilians using metal detectors at the beginning of 2011, who notified the archaeologists of the Directorate of Pest County Museums. Three graves from the period were found during the authentication excavation. There was a real surprise in the third grave: the gilt silver ornamented, uniquely structured belt and the plate of the sabretache indicated the high rank of the interred. Horse bones, trappings, and the remains of archery equipment were also found. As a result of trial trenching carried out on the area later on, 20 additional graves were found. Unfortunately the graveyard had been wearing thin for decades due to soil erosion and ploughing.
The large number of jewellery and pieces of ornamented clothing found in the upper humus level, which is mixed up and rolled out by the plow, indicate that the richer graves located on the hill fell victim to agricultural activities.
Based on the finds, the cemetery was used in the second half of the 10th century, and the beautiful, but in the long usage rather worn, sabretache plate was discovered in the grave of the community’s prestigious leader.

Ágnes Füredi

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